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Monday, February 15, 2016

Northern Gannet Migration spectacle!

Spectacular Northern Gannets were flying by in large numbers. It can take 4-5 years for them to reach their white adult plumage. Younger birds have dark on their bodies.

We moved over to the breakwater on Captiva, just north of Sanibel because they were closest to shore there. 

Such a dramatic bird, this one is almost an adult.

They were stacked up but did not touch.

They went up above the horizon then roller-coastered down low to the waves.

We climbed out onto the breakwater, I stood on the rocks above Don. He counted, I photographed the gannets. (photo of us by Meade Cadot.)

On Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida, Northern Gannets can be seen from shore frequently but on Mar. 25th 2012 these dramatic, large, seabirds were migrating past at the rate of about 900 per hour!! We went with our visiting NH birding friends, Meade and Sandy, to the beach at Blind Pass and could not believe the numbers. Strong storms had come through and there was a WNW wind blowing hard, pushing these birds, who normally are out farther in the Gulf of Mexico, closer to shore. The birds were heading south and will eventually go around the Florida peninsula and up the Atlantic Coast to their colonial breeding grounds in the North Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
These birds are incredible flyers and spend most of their life at sea. They fly in lines, undulating up and then down, skimming along in the wave troughs. The eat fish and can plunge dive as deep as 72 feet.
We had a fabulous time watching them.

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